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Apr 16th
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Dining Reviews

Dining - Dining Reviews

Center of Attention

Center of Attention

Center Street Grill continues to win points for its hospitality and exceptional menu

I was on time to meet my friend Harriet for lunch at Center Street Grill. I found a parking spot right outside the restaurant and then noticed Harriet’s car nearby with the engine still running, but no sign of her. When I saw she is not in the restaurant either, Center Street Grill’s co-owner Marty Soliz, followed me outside, showing the utmost concern for my friend, who, it turned out, had gone into a nearby store and had forgotten to turn off the ignition or lock the doors.

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Dining - Dining Reviews

Ode to Osocalis

Ode to Osocalis

Why one local distillery strives to take its time

Winding through the Santa Cruz mountains, it isn't hard to spot a vineyard. And in town, you don't have to search long to find a local brewery. But when it comes to finding local hooch, there is only one place to go. Well, actually, there are lots of places you could go, seeing as state and federal alcohol laws require liquor producers, like Soquel-based Osocalis, to sell their products through stores and prohibits direct-to-customer sales. But forget about that for now.

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Dining - Dining Reviews

A Slice of Farm Life

A Slice of Farm Life

Ag-based education gets a boost at Slice, the fifth annual farm dinner to support the Live Earth Farm Discovery Program

Does a hamburger come from a farm?

It’s a surprisingly complex question, and one that youth who pass through the Live Earth Farm Discovery Program (LEFDP) have thoughtfully explored. The nonprofit’s 10 different programs provide farm-based education and activities for infants through teenagers, and the questions posed—such as the aforementioned quandary about the origins of a hamburger—vary in depth depending on the age group.

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Dining - Dining Reviews

Smooth Thai Landing at Main Beach

Smooth Thai Landing at Main Beach

Soquel’s Sawasdee earns great views at Casablanca Inn

I was looking forward to a Thai lunch, and an almost waterfront table overlooking the Main Beach surf on a pleasant day made this midweek jaunt even more tantalizing.

Walking a block down the Main Street hill from the designated free parking lot, the breeze bore the familiar summer scents of salt, sea and seaweed. Gulls closely followed dive-bombing pelicans in hopes of a catch, while a lone stand-up paddler glided atop the ocean’s smooth surface.

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Dining - Dining Reviews

Have Your Cake

Have Your Cake

It occurred to me that my children may have grown up deprived. I prepared thousands of cooked-from-scratch meals, albeit with some barely edible experiments in the mix. Focaccia, pizza and even a pair of baguettes made their way to the table (mea culpa; not so difficult with a bread machine), but I don’t recall ever making them a proper strawberry shortcake.

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Dining - Dining Reviews

Hot Plates Abound

Hot Plates Abound

Timeless and authentic, Tortilla Flats continues to impress in its 35th anniversary year

There are probably not many restaurants in Santa Cruz County that can attest to being in business for several decades, but Tortilla Flats has just logged 35 years—with owner-chef Cheryl Marquez at the helm.

Service is consistently good at Tortilla Flats. From the minute we enter the restaurant, servers buzz around making sure we have everything we need. A fresh bowl of chips and salsa appears on our table, the piquant salsa nicely presented in a little pouring jar. This place runs like a well-oiled machine.

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Dining - Dining Reviews

Edible Art

Edible Art

Local chef Wendy Brodie encourages us to play with our food

For Wendy Brodie, cooking goes far beyond a recipe—it’s an art form. The Carmel-based chef believes that color, texture and presentation are just as important as the food itself.

Locals will have the opportunity to experience some of Brodie’s culinary masterpieces first-hand on Aug. 29, when she is the featured chef at one of the Annieglass Platemaker Dinners. The series offers participants a market-fresh feast with paired wine by renowned chefs and vintners, hosted by local artist Annie Morhauser. Each four-course meal is served on Morhauser’s award-winning, handcrafted glassware in her production studio, and benefits the Annieglass Scholarships at local high schools, as well as the California College of the Arts, Morhauser’s alma mater.

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Dining - Dining Reviews

Sid’s is Smokin’

Sid’s is Smokin’

The inventive team behind Sid’s Smokehouse gets a (delicious) GT grilling

Barbecue is an all-time popular food—think Fourth of July, family get-togethers, casual corporate events, back-yard birthday celebrations—and most people love a tasty piece of meat. Sid’s cooks up all the favorite meats—pork, brisket, ribs, chicken, burgers and turkey—and has just added salmon to the menu as well. Fixin’s include Sid’s Slaw, Smokehouse beans, Smokehouse greens, garlic fries, garlic mashed, beer-battered onion rings, and sweet potato fries.

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Aries Solar Festival

Sunday is Palm Sunday. Symbolizing victory and triumph, paradise, sacrifice and martyrdom, the Pisces World Teacher entered Jerusalem (City of Peace) on a donkey (signifying humility).

 

Sugar: The New Tobacco?

Proposed bill would require warning labels on sugary drinks Will soda and other saccharine libations soon come with a health warning? They will if it’s up to our state senator, Bill Monning (D-Carmel). On Feb. 27, Monning proposed first-of-its-kind legislation that would require a consumer warning label be placed on sugar-sweetened beverages sold in California. SB 1000, also known as the Sugar-Sweetened Beverages Safety Warning Act, was proposed to provide vital information to consumers about the harmful effects of consuming sugary drinks, such as sodas, sports drinks, energy drinks, and sweetened teas.

 

Animal Magnetism

Bear, mouse dare to be friends in charming ‘Ernest and Celestine’ It’s not exactly Romeo and Juliet. It’s not even a romance, although it is a love story about two individuals separated by prejudice who find the courage to form an unshakable bond despite the rules and traditions that keep them apart.

 

Printer's Devil

Iconic editor Buz Bezore, who died last month at the age of 68, left a huge mark on Santa Cruz journalism   Eventually, it’s all a blur. You live long enough, and maybe a little too hard at times, so that when you hit the rewind button of faded memory, it moves so fast that you can hardly sort and gather the details. One scene skips to the next, and to the next, without proper editing or sequencing. Chronologies get distorted. Which came first: stealing the chickens or coloring the eggs?
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Waddell Creek, Al Fresco

Route One Summer Farm Dinner You’ve been buying their insanely fresh produce for years now at farmers’ markets. Right? So now why not become more familiar with the gorgeous Waddell Creek farmlands of Route One Farms?

 

How would you feel about a tech industry boom in Santa Cruz?

I feel like it would ruin the small old-town feeling of Santa Cruz. It wouldn’t be the same Surf City kind of vacation town that it is. Antoinette BennettSanta Cruz | Construction Management

 

Best of Santa Cruz County

The 2013 Santa Cruz County Readers' Poll and Critics’ Picks It’s our biggest issue of the year, and in it, your votes—more than 6,500 of them—determined the winners of The Best of Santa Cruz County Readers’ Poll. New to the long list of local restaurants, shops and other notables that captured your interest: Best Beer Selection, Best Locally Owned Business, Best Customer Service and Best Marijuana Dispensary. In the meantime, many readers were ever so chatty online about potential new categories. Some of the suggestions that stood out: Best Teen Program and Best Web Design/Designer. But what about: Dog Park, Church, Hotel, Local Farm, Therapist (I second that!) or Sports Bar—not to be confused with Bra. Our favorite suggestion: Best Act of Kindness—one reader noted Café Gratitude and the free meals it offered to the Santa Cruz Police Department in the aftermath of recent crimes. Perhaps some of these can be woven into next year’s ballot, so stay tuned. In the meantime, enjoy the following pages and take note of our Critics’ Picks, too, beginning on page 91. A big thanks for voting—and for reading—and an even bigger congratulations to all of the winners. Enjoy.  -Greg Archer, EditorBest of Santa Cruz County Readers’ Poll INDEX

 

Comanche Cellars

Pinot Noir 2010 I first tasted Comanche Cellars Pinot when a friend brought a bottle to share over lunch at Center Street Grill in Santa Cruz. Upon trying it, I knew I had to find out more about it.